29 October 2006

Burda 554/5

Pattern: Pattern #5 from Burda Special 554
Thread: 40/2 linen
Needles: 2 mm

This doily in linen thread blocked out more evenly than my Burda 554/6 doily, probably because it doesn't have large stockinette stitch sections or a lot of unusual textures.

28 October 2006

Swallowtail Shawl

Pattern: Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn Clark in Interweave Knits Fall 2006
Yarn: Jaggerspun Zephyr (color Elderberry)
Needles: 3.75 mm

This shawl is fairly small, less than four feet across the top edge. I enjoyed knitting this design very much—it's the second shawl designed by Evelyn Clark that I have made (the other being the Shetland Triangle from Wrap Style, which I knit last fall). Swallowtail is begun from a few stitches at the neck, and the increases are placed so that the shawl grows out diagonally to the left and right to form the triangular shape. There is no separately knitted on sideways border—the stitches are simply bound off along the left and right edges.

There are some p5togs as part of the nupps making up the Estonian lily-of-the-valley lace pattern border. For ease of knitting, I chose to execute these decreases as slip 3 knitwise, purl 2 together, pass slipped stitches over.

Anyone who has this issue of Interweave Knits should also check out editor Pam Allen's note on page 2—she quotes some fascinating notes from Evelyn Clark about why the scallop pattern on the edges of her triangular shawls cannot be created just by using a slightly wavy lace pattern in the final rows. In the Swallowtail Shawl pattern, the number of stitches in the very last row is increased by about 25% and a particularly loose kind of bind off is used to in order to ensure that the scallops develop. Shetland Triangle, which is also scalloped at the edge, is finished off using the same method.

25 October 2006


Pattern: Egeblad, available as a free pattern online (written instructions only, no charts)
Thread: Cebelia 30 crochet cotton
Needles: 2 mm

This pattern was originally designed by Christine Duchrow and is pattern #1 in her 64th leaflet (reprinted in The Knitted Lace Patterns of Christine Duchrow, Volume 3). It does not appear to have been named "Egeblad" by Duchrow.

I'm including a picture of it on the blocking foam. If you look very closely, you can see that I don't trim my thread tails until after I have finished blocking.

I knit the doily from the online pattern, not the original Duchrow charts. Despite the fact that I prefer using charts, the knitting was quick (I started and finished it within a single weekend, albeit an obviously lazy one!). It's a classic example of a doily that uses only single yarn overs and the basic decrease stitches (k2tog; sl1-k1-psso; and s1-k2tog-psso) to acheive a beautiful effect. There are no special increases, crossed stitches, tricky k5togs or k7togs, or a bunch of double yos to slow you down. The stitch repeats are small, and it's easy to stop looking at the pattern so much and just get into a rhythm (you end up with 20 repeats around the doily, so each repeat does not have too much going on even in the larger final rounds). I can definitely see why it's a popular lace knitting pattern in the online knitting world, and I would highly recommend it to knitters who are new to doilies.

Dark red Cebelia thread bleeds. A lot. I know red dyes usually bleed a bit during washing, but this thread turned my fingers red while I knit! I rinsed it five times before I was satisfied that not too much dye would continue to come out.

A word about the blocking foam in the picture: It's an item imported from Germany that is available from Lacis in California. I like that it has circles and ovals drawn in already—it seems designed for blocking doilies. But it's a flimsy lightweight foam. Since it has creases from being folded into quarters, I have to weigh it down at the corners during use just to keep it totally flat on the floor. And, a white doily on its white surface is practically invisible, making it harder than usual to block out. I much prefer the quality of this blocking board instead, which is heavy and very tough and...gray! It's actually made by a company that makes table pads for protecting dining tables, and no surprise, is quite similar to a table pad.

24 October 2006

A belated introduction

Well, now that I've gotten this blog started and actually put its address in my signatures in knitting list posts, maybe I should say a little about what this site is supposed to be about.

I hope to use this blog to put out some of my thoughts about knitting for public discussion. Or, if I don't have much of a regular audience, that's fine too. Maybe someone searching for a particular knitting topic one day might find a useful tidbit of information archived here.

I also intend to use this space to assemble some pictures of my finished projects in order to keep some records for myself. I can only dream that my projects might inspire anyone as my favorite knitting galleries on the web have inspired me over the years, but if they did, I would be thrilled.

Please feel free to say hi and let me know your thoughts!

By the way, I promise I'll get into some topics other than "doily math" soon! :-) I'm currently working on information on reading German lace knitting patterns, and Erich Engeln patterns in particular. I think it's a pity that Engeln patterns don't seem to be knitted often when the leaflets are still in print and not that hard to obtain, and they are really pretty clear (much easier to read than the Christine Duchrow reprints, I think, although I will get around to tackling those someday too).

Math for doilies and shawls, part 2

Let's compare the estimates from part 1 to a stitch-by-stitch calculation of a simple hypothetical doily having 16 total rounds. This doily starts with 8 stitches in round 1, increases to 16 stitches in round 3, 24 stitches in round 5, and so on (8 stitches increased every other round, a "standard" increase rate that produces a flat doily). There are 64 stitches in each of final rounds 15 and 16.

The total number of stitches in this doily is (8+8+16+16+24+24+32+32+40+40+48+48+56+56+64+64) = 576

After round 8 of 16, the total number of stitches is (8+8+16+16+24+24+32+32) = 160

160 stitches/576 stitches = .277 (i.e., 28%) In other words, after round 8, about 28% of the stitches have been completed, which more or less corresponds to the "25%" quick estimate from above.

Also, 70% of the total number of rounds (16) is about 11 rounds. After round 11, there are 288 stitches. 288 stitches/576 stitches = .5 (i.e., 50%) In other words, half of the stitches have been knitted, just as predicted by the estimate from part 1.

Of course, increasing eight stitches every other round can produce a square or a circular shape depending on where the increases are placed in the pattern. As far as estimating the number of stitches left to knit, it doesn't matter what shape the pattern is, so long as it is basically flat.

What about triangular shawls, the kind knitted back and forth from a few stitches cast on at the center of the neck with rows getting longer and longer? Like the Kiri shawl by Polly at alltangledup or the Flower Basket shawl by Evelyn Clark? Well, they are essentially half of a square knitted from the center out, where 4 stitches increased every other round is a good rule of thumb for producing a flat triangular shape. The percentages are the same for a triangle as if you were working all the way around a square—when you have knitted half of the total number of rows, you have completed about 25% of the shawl, and when you have knitted 70% of the total number of rows, you have completed about 50% of the shawl (not counting any additional knitting like a sideways-knitted lace edging).

Math for doilies (and shawls) knitted in the round, part 1

Say your doily is 100 rounds. You have just finished round 50 and are "halfway" through the pattern, but of course you're not actually halfway through the knitting because the rounds so far have been relatively small and are only getting bigger and bigger. Question #1: Well, how much of the doily have you completed, then? Question #2: How many rounds will you have to finish before you're really at the halfway point?

For exact answers, you can count up all the stitches in the doily round by round (a spreadsheet would help!). You can then divide the number of total stitches by the number of stitches completed so far to find out how much of the knitting you've done. However, there is an easier way to estimate the answer instead, based on the fact that the area of a circle is equal to pi times the square of its radius. Think of comparing two circles—one circle is the finished, whole doily; the other circle is the doily in progress.

Note that we also have to assume that the doily is flat and increases more or less evenly and gradually (like eight stitches increased every other round—but the exact numbers are not critical). This math doesn't quite apply so well to an Elizabeth Zimmermann "Pi shawl," where there are many rounds with no stitch increases and a few rounds where the stitch count suddenly doubles. (I'll have to look into pi-shawl math some other time!)

Estimated answer to question #1:

  • The fraction of the finished doily you have so far is equal to about (the number of rounds completed so far)²/(the number of total rounds in the finished doily)².
Plugging in the numbers from our example: 50²/100² = 2500/10000 = .25 (i.e., 25%)

So, in a doily with 100 total rounds, you have knitted about one fourth of the doily when you have finished round 50.

Estimated answer to question #2:

  • The number of rounds completed before you get to a certain fraction of the finished doily is equal to about (the square root of fraction of the finished doily)*(the number of total rounds in the finished doily).

Plugging in the numbers from our example, √.5 * 100 rounds = .707 * 100 rounds = 70.7 rounds

For a doily with 100 total rounds, you have knitted about half when you have finished round 70 or 71.

Based on the results above, here are some easy to remember generalizations:

  • When you have knitted half of the total number of rounds, you have knitted about one fourth of the total doily.
  • You have knitted half of the total doily when you have knitted about 70% of the number of total rounds.

Other examples:

To estimate how many rounds it takes to complete 80% of a 125-round doily, use equation #2: √.8 * 125 rounds = 111.8 rounds.
Or, to estimate how far along you are when you have just finished round 85 in a 96-round doily, use equation #1: 85²/96² = .78 (i.e., 78%)

Remember that every pattern is different and these are just general estimates. However, if anything, the math demonstrates that you should not understimate the amount of time (and thread!) you still need when you may be "only" a dozen rounds from finishing a large doily.

23 October 2006

Burda 554/6

Pattern: Pattern #6 from Burda Special 554
Thread: 40/2 linen, available here.
Needles: 2 mm

This pattern is full of interesting stitches beyond the basic left and right decreases and yarn overs. There are k3togs, k7togs, 1x1 crossed stitches, and one I haven't seen too often: slip 1, knit 2 (not k2tog!), pass slipped stitch over the 2 knit stitches (a 3-into-2 decrease).

I plan to post some closeups comparing the 40/2 linen thread with a smooth crochet cotton like DMC Cebelia soon. Even from this doily picture, you can see how this linen thread itself is uneven and how the stitches are imperfect, probably because of the thread's "crunchy" texture. In my experience with this and several other doilies, this 40/2 linen thread doesn't seem to pull into perfectly even stitches as readily as a smooth cotton thread does. However, I think the slightly wobbly-looking stockinette stitch sections are rather interesting and not necessarily a bad thing, depending on your taste; it's just different from the usual die-cut look with the high quality crochet cotton. I also love how the linen makes the blocked doily feel slightly rigid without any starch. It's a little like a piece of paper.

Doily by Erich Engeln

Pattern: "D" from Erich Engeln leaflet #17
Thread: Cebelia 30 crochet cotton
Needles: 2 mm

This pattern is available here. It's in German, but everything is well charted.

Also note that this doily and the one below are knitted in a light green shade of Cebelia. Do not adjust your monitor—they're not supposed to be white!

Doily by Herbert Niebling

Pattern: Pattern #50 from Burda Special 418
Thread: Cebelia 30 crochet cotton
Needles: 2 mm

This doily is credited to designer Herbert Niebling in Burda 418. Unfortunately, the Burda magazine is out of print, but this pattern is still available as a leaflet published by Coats Intermezzo.

In the original pattern, two of the six corners have double the number of small diamonds, resulting in a pointy oval or "eye" shaped doily. I knit all of the corners the same way.